Defense attorney: Client who unwittingly paid underage girls for sex 'just a dumb kid'

Mar 10 2012 - 10:20pm

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Brian Stafford
Brian Stafford

OGDEN -- Defense attorney Sean Young is not impressed with the law that allowed a jury conviction of his client for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and prostitution.

Brian Stafford, 21, faces sentencing April 12 on two counts each of the offenses stemming from consensual sexual activity early last year with two females ages 16 and 17 at the time. Their ongoing sexual relationships began after they met on Facebook.

Young said Stafford thought the two were his age, something he tried to stress with the jury, even though the law states ignorance of the victim's age is no defense.

"He's just a dumb kid trying to get laid," the public defender said of his client.

Young said he thought he had a chance at swaying the jury, but the prosecution was able to include as a formal jury instruction the irrelevance of not knowing the sexual partners were underage.

"And that was our whole defense," Young said. "He had no reason to believe they weren't his age. It's a bad law. We got slaughtered."

Deputy Weber County Attorney Letitia Toombs noted the jury saw both victims testify.

"Like I said to the jury in closing arguments: Is there any question in your minds that they were under the age of 18 when they were with Stafford? And the jurors spent far less time with them than Stafford did.

"But the bottom line is, the statute says it doesn't matter whether he knew they were underage or not."

After the one-day trial in January, the jury was out less than an hour before it came back with a verdict. Toombs said that meant the verdict was an easy call for jurors.

The prostitution charge was also galling to Young.

"Yes, he paid them for sex," he said. "My argument is, he is just a dumb kid."

The two females are more experienced in the ways of the world than is his client, Young said.

"One of them began to feel guilty about what they were doing and told a relative, who contacted police. But this is only after they took him for several hundred dollars over a period of months."

Young asks why the girls weren't also charged with prostitution, to which Toombs replied, "He has no business talking about any of that. He knows they are juveniles."

Any proceedings against the girls would be in juvenile court and would be confidential, she said.

Young also was concerned that Toombs asked for a psychosexual evaluation to be sure Stafford is not a sexual predator.

"Again, he's just a young kid who got wrapped up in something stupid. He's not a predator. It's not like he lured them somewhere. He went over to their houses, he was invited."

Young is pessimistic about the exam, saying he expects the examiner "likely will say he is a predator. He'll give the prosecution what they want so they'll hire him again."

Toombs was startled by that claim. "The doctors are governed by rules of ethics just like we all are. And I don't believe they are coloring their decisions based on financial motivations."

Young said Stafford lost his job and his apartment over the charges when they were filed a year ago. Now he has to pay for the $800 intake fee for the evaluation, he said, because the state dropped the funding for them.

"It's kind of a mess, a sad case."

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